The 1-3 record for Shawnee Mission West's football team is misleading.
The Vikings have lost three consecutive games since shutting out Leavenworth, 9-0, in the opener. The Vikings' first loss was a 35-28 double-overtime setback to Olathe East. Olathe North, unbeaten and ranked first in Class 6A, pounded the Vikings, 37-7, the second week.
Last week, the Vikings lost a 7-2 heartbreaker to Shawnee Mission South.
"We were inside their 20 three or four times and being the coaching guru that I am, I decided to go for it and not kick the field goal," said first-year West coach Steve Shelton, whose team had a touchdown called back because of a penalty. "It's been real frustrating in a sense that we could easily be 3-1 instead of 1-3."
The teams that have beaten the Vikings are among the Sunflower League's upper division and have combined for a 10-2 record through four weeks.
They play another of the Sunflower's best on Friday, when Lawrence High (3-1) visits the Vikings at South Stadium. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.
Before arrving at SM West, Shelton spent two three-year stints as an assistant at Fort Scott Community College. One year at Atchison High in 1991 was sandwiched between the two stops at Fort Scott.
One of the first moves Shelton made was converting senior Twyanne Aldridge to running back from the offensive and defensive line.
Said Shelton of Aldridge's move to running back, "I saw him run in track and I said, 'What do you play in football?' And he told me he played on the line. I said, 'can you carry the football.' He's still learning the position."
Aldridge leads the Vikings' rushing attack. He has 50 carries for 311 yards, an average of 6.22 yards a carry, and two touchdowns.
Senior quarterback Zac Richmond has thrown for 266 yards to rank second in the league. Richmond, however, has completed just 22 of 66 passes (33 percent) and been intercepted four times.
Shelton mentioned nose guard Darren Hunt and inside linebacker Neal Swartz and end Bubba Powell as the team's top defenders.
Since playing Lawrence in the Class 6A state semifinals in 1991, SM West has endured three straight losing seasons and appear headed to another sub-.500 year. The Vikings ripped Blue Valley Northwest in the '94 season finale for their lone victory in their 1-8 season. They have compiled a 9-22 record in the past three-plus years.
"We've told the kids from the get-go that we're on our own timetable," Shelton said. "I think our best football is yet to come."